Crunchy Salad Toppers and Low-Prep Dinners!

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Dear HG,

I love to eat large salads, but they don't feel complete without something crunchy. I know tortilla strips and buttery croutons aren't exactly diet friendly. What are some of your favorite low-cal crunchy salad toppers?

Crunchin' Catherine

Hi Catherine,

Good question. Crispy salad ingredients can add too many unwanted calories and fat grams to your meal. (They're often fried or cooked with too much oil.) But salads are awesome, and they deserve crunchy toppings. Try these guilt-free picks...

Chips and Strips - Crush up some baked tortilla chips for quick and easy crunch. My favorites are by Guiltless Gourmet. If you want to make your own crispy treats, slice up some wonton wrappers into thin strips, lay them on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, and bake at 325 degrees until crispy, about 5 minutes. Have two wrappers' worth of strips for only around 40 calories and no fat (PointsPlus® value 1*). Nice!

Sliced Almonds - With thinly sliced almonds, a tablespoon is all it takes to add crispy deliciousness to your salad. I LOVE the Wonderful Almond Accents line. In addition to amazing flavors like Honey Roasted and Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, there are fruity varieties like Honey Roasted with Cranberries. Great if you like a little chewy with your crunchy! A 1-tbsp. serving has 35 - 45 calories and 2 - 4g fat (PointsPlus® value 1*).

Fruits and Veggies - Chopped or sliced apple adds a refreshing and juicy crunch factor to your salads. Pears are great too! As for veggies, I like sugar snap peas (cook them slightly if you find the raw flavor too grassy), jicama (so good!), and canned sliced water chestnuts. Some bagged broccoli cole slaw is another good way to add crunch to your salad for hardly any calories.

High-Fiber Cereal - It might sound weird, but Fiber One Original is FANTASTIC on salads. It's like a slightly sweeter version of those fried noodles you see in Chinese chicken salads. Plus, you get a fiber boost. A 1/4-cup topping has only 30 calories, yet it packs 7g fiber (PointsPlus® value 1*). Amazing!

More Market Finds - When it comes to chips, why stop at tortilla? Crumble some Popchips (try Barbeque or Parmesan Garlic) over your greens for some flavorful crunchables! And in addition to raw fruit and veggies, try crunchy freeze-dried varieties. Sensible Foods and Just Tomatoes, Etc.! have some super-crispy picks that would be incredible over salads.

There you have it. Happy crunching!

Hi HG,

I'm a busy mom with a full-time job, which makes eating smart seem nearly impossible. When I get home from work, I'm really tired, but I still have to make dinner. What are some of your favorite dinner ideas that don't require a ton of prep time?

Heather in a Hurry

Hi Heather,

I won't waste any of your time. I've got a BUNCH of recipe ideas for easy dinners you can make in a snap:

Foil-Pack Attack - With HG foil-pack recipes, all you have to do is wrap up your ingredients in foil, toss 'em in the oven, and voilà! Moist and flavorful food, and cleanup is a cinch. Click here for a super-flavorful chicken dish plus a truly amazing chicken-sausage-with-squash pack. Click here for a teriyaki fish meal, a delicious veggie side dish, and a fruity chicken foil pack. And check out this Spinach Artichoke Chicken, as seen on Dr. Oz!

No-Cook Cuisine - You know what really cuts down cook time? Not cooking! Check out this recipe for a veggie-packed Thai-style stir-fry (minus the frying). And these four-ingredient Shrimp Cocktail Tacos couldn't be quicker. Now click for an entire roundup of no-cook recipes!

Slow-Cooker Crazy - Some of the absolute EASIEST recipes are those made in slow cookers. Stuff everything in the slow cooker in the morning, and an amazing meal will be ready by dinnertime. Check out these hearty set-it-and-forget-it dinners: Bacon Apple Chicken Stew and Slow-Cooker Sloppy Janes! For veggies, these Glaze-of-Glory Candied Carrots are really, really delicious. And click here for a HUGE slow-cooker recipe roundup.

Hot Couples and Cool Trios - Another great way to cut down on prep time is to use fewer ingredients. Look to Hot Couples: Protein Edition for Taco Meatballs, Southwest Tuna Salad, Chili-Stuffed Mushrooms, and more. And for rockin' three-ingredient recipes, try the Super-Cheesy Crazy-EZ Shepherd's Pie, "Twice-Baked" Mexi-tato, and Tuna Noodle Casse-bowl. You can even make a lean and mean seafood soup with only three ingredients -- check out this Lean-O Cioppino!

Hungry for More? Click here for a fantastic rundown of timesaving dinner staples. Good stuff! And the HG cookbooks are FULL of low-prep recipes like the ones mentioned above. HUNGRY GIRL TO THE MAX! has entire chapters of foil packs and slow cookers. 300 Under 300 has foil packs, slow cookers, and SEVEN chapters of trios. And HG 1-2-3 includes chapters of foil packs, slow cookers, and no-cook recipes. Yum for everyone!

Pass along these crunch-tastic salad ideas and easy-peasy dinner recipes. Click "Send to a Friend" now!


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